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Eur J Hum Genet. 2005 Sep;13(9):1047-54.

Nondisease genetic testing: reporting of muscle SNPs shows effects on self-concept and health orientation scales.

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  • 1Research Center for Genetic Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA. egordon@cnmcresearch.org


The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of genetic self-knowledge (nondisease genotype information) on individual self-concept and Health Orientation Scale (HOS). Adult volunteers (n=257) were recruited from an ongoing genetic association study identifying muscle quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Participants completed psychosocial assessments before and after 12 weeks of resistance training of the nondominant arm. At study exit, a genetic counselor informed participants of genetic test results on three to four genes that have an association with muscle-related traits, and counseled subjects on the potential significance of these findings. The second psychosocial assessment was performed immediately following this counseling session. The Tennessee Self-Concept Scale v.2 (TSCS:2) and the HOS showed female subjects to have a significantly greater positive change between first and second assessments, relative to male subjects. Most self-concept subscales improved significantly, when 'neutral' genotypes (no anticipated beneficial or deleterious impact) were reported, compared to positive genotypes. TSCS:2 subscales showing improvement included: total (P=0.013); physical (P=0.004); satisfaction (P=0.019); and behavioral (P=0.047). HOS subscales showing improvement included health image concern (P=0.006); and health expectations (P=0.047). In conclusion, these results suggest that genetic self-knowledge affects self-concept, consistent with the 'attribution' theory. Individuals who received neutral genetic information attributed positive changes from the exercise program to their own abilities, while those who received positive information were more likely to attribute positive changes to their genetics. This study is limited by the ability to determine the direction of the impact of nondisease genetic information presented to participants.

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